With countless news reports of a struggling economy and cities refocusing efforts on creating and sustaining economic development, it can be hard to think ahead to easier times. However, small strides can make a big difference.
Cynthia Smith-Strack, the St. Joseph Economic Development Authority’s consulting director, presented the EDA’s annual report for 2012 to the city council last month. Economic development has been an active process in the city of St. Joseph. While it’s a shifting and continuous process, here are some examples of its activity in St. Joseph.
During the past five years, 251 jobs have been added in the city. Of those, most were added from the expansion of business versus businesses starting up, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, highlighted in the report. More jobs were lost from decreases in business volume than the closing of businesses. In the first and second quarter of 2012, there were 1,798 employees, 125 business establishments and an average weekly wage of $666; all three are up from 2011, according to the report.
Last year the EDA addressed four functions: organizational development, infrastructure development, business development and market development. Of those four functions, 62 percent of the EDA’s time was devoted to business development, down from 75 percent in 2011, according to the annual report. The city welcomed several new businesses in 2012. They include Cone Castle, Bello Cucina and McDonald’s. Additional development progress includes the construction of the first phase of the Villages of CSB, a residential development owned by Collegeville Cos.
Organizational development came in second for strategic direction as 26 percent of staff time went to that area, up from about 16 percent from 2011. The increase in this area stemmed from an emphasis on goal setting. Third place went to market development with 11 percent of the EDA’s time dedicated to that area. That is up about 6 percent from 2011. An example of work in this area is the conversion to the new city website, according to the report.
These are just a few examples of the progress that continues to take place in the city. More is ahead as officials work to create a master plan for downtown development. The report is worth reading to understand the impact of development in your community and what lies in the future. While numbers can be daunting, the report is packaged in a way that summarizes highlights and core functions of the EDA.
The annual report is available on the city’s website in the city council packet from Feb 21. Visit www.cityofstjoseph.com. Take a look.